Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New policy on brain death has families in mind

New policy on brain death has families in mind

By Gregg Zoroya - USA TODAY
Posted : Monday Mar 22, 2010 21:47:41 EDT

WASHINGTON — Family members of combat troops declared brain-dead will have an opportunity for a final reunion with their loved ones before life support is removed, according to new guidelines provided to battlefield doctors.

The guidelines are aimed at helping doctors determine what to do when a combat casualty suffers brain death, a decision physicians were left to figure out before on a case-by-case basis.

Moving brain-dead troops to more advanced military hospitals, such as those in Europe or the United States, will also make it possible to harvest organs for transplants, the guidelines say.

The recommendations were issued last week by the military’s Joint Theater Trauma System, which provides medical research and guidance for battlefield care.

Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, about 175 troops with catastrophic head injuries have been evacuated from the war zones only to die later of their wounds, says Army Col. Brian Eastridge, director of the Joint Theater Trauma System. Doctors in combat operations are not required to obtain permission from next of kin before removing a brain-dead patient from life support, Eastridge says.

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New policy on brain death has families in mind

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